176 – Andy Magness – How To Train For GODZone

Andy Magness
Ultra Endurance Racer, Andy Magness

Andy Magness is many things — husband, father, recreational philosopher, novice gardener, reluctant homeowner, occasional adventurer, part-time athlete, race director, youth philanthropist, burgeoning author, and eternal possibilitist (not to mention avid neologist). An avid climber and mountaineer during his younger days, Andy followed his twin brother Jason into the world of extreme endurance sports more than a decade go. His experiments in high intensity training for these events began as he tried to keep up with Jason while simultaneously starting a family and going back to graduate school in Physics.

Andy has had continuous success competing in a variety of ultra-endurance disciplines despite reducing his weekly training commitment from 3 hours a week in 2007 to between 30 and 60 minutes a week at present (2018)! In his most recent extreme endurance event, GODZone, Andy’s team placed 7th out of 100 teams.

Check out Andy’s first appearance on the podcast here and Andy’s excellent book – UltraMental: An unconventional approach to training for endurance events on a few hours a week (or less)

Please note – this episode is out of sequence and precedes my episodes on “bulking up” (solocast here and Dr Doug McGuff’s view here). In this episode with Andy, I talk about my calorie surplus experiment, and if you’re a regular listener, you will know this came to a quick end, and for good reason!

In this episode, we cover:

  • Andy’s tortuous ordeal competing in GODZone (one of the toughest adventure races on the planet)
  • How Andy uses HIT principles to maintain fitness and prepare for endurance events
  • How to cultivate a healthier well-being in the face of unrealistic expectations and social media
  • … and much, much more

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Comments 10

  • “You are mental” I lolled!

    For once (or more lol) I agree with Steve Maxwell, all those guys are on gear of some sort. I heard a good adage somewhere that “if you take your shirt off for a living, you’re probably on steroids”.

    My method for dealing with social media btw is to not have it on my personal phone. I have an old handset specifically for that reason. It sits in a drawer, turned off until I actually need to use it.

    • Hahah, glad you enjoyed that.

      I think that’s a great strategy for dealing with social media. I don’t have it on my phone either bar Instagram, because I don’t know how to post pictures via my laptop. If it weren’t for my business, I wouldn’t be on social media. I think it’s incredibly destructive and very few people know how to control it vs it controlling them.

      • Well Instagram is designed for phone and for good reason, it’s highly addictive and your laptop isn’t in your pocket all day every day!

  • “The plateau is the goal” – brilliant! It puts the idea of genetic potential in a different light. I have viewed the idea of reaching our limits as a bad thing in the past because of the focus on limits and the conflict of wanting to be progress forever.

    Yet, Andy’s point that we can reach a state where we’re strong, we feel great, we look great, and we can do all the things we want is a great one!

    • Thanks Matt. Whenever I get really confused about training, diet, health, etc. I just remember 80/20, that so long as we’re eating whole food most of the time, doing HIT once or twice a week, moving plenty, sleeping 7-9 hours, and managing stress, I feel like we’re going to live long. That is not to say I don’t like to nerd out on refinement and optimisation, of course I do. But if I ever find myself anxious or confused about doing the right thing, I just keep the former foundation in mind.

  • Enjoyed it Andy seems like a really interesting person and someone who without a doubt trains to failure!

    Wondering how to fit HIIT and cardio in alongside my weekly HIT workout. How much do you feel HIIT and cardio effect recovery Lawrence?

    Currently I do five a side soccer (kind of HIIT) on a Monday, HIT body weight workout on Thursday and Mountain climbers in a Tabata HIIT style or a 5k run on Saturday. Starting to plateau and wondering if recovery may be an issue? Or is it just to be expected as have been doing body weight training for around 6 months now? Previously workout at the gym.

    Interested to get peoples view. Clearly Andy has managed to get the right balance!

    • When you say you have started to plateau do you mean in hypertrophy, performance, body composition or other factors?

      My rough routine is Monday 10k, Wednesday HIIT (kettlebell swings plus some med ball stuff), Friday HIT (roughly 7 exercises, occasional adjuncts, one set to failure). Sometimes I’ll throw in some light Indian clubs for recreation, I also do adequate walking.

      The only things that really effect my recovery is if I go too hard on the HIT/HIIT, drop sets and other “advanced techniques” can put me into over training easily. Too many intervals of KB swings and it’s DOMS time.

      Without knowing your goals it’s hard to make recommendations other than get plenty of sleep and adequate nutrition. Sometimes it’s easy to forget what we actually want to do with the “fitness” we acquire!

      • Hi Andrew thanks for your response.

        Sorry I meant in terms of TUT/reps. I think I likely hit a plateau in terms of hypertrophy years ago I would however say I have maintained my previous ‘gainz’ and I am making good progress in terms of body recomp.

        I have been using drop sets so may need to stop doing that. My sleep is also poor I aim to get 8 hours plus but unfortunately my two young children often mean I get closer to 6 hours a night.

        My goals currently are to maintain by current fitness (which I have been doing) but also get to more challenging body weight movements such as a leg pistol and one arm press up etc which is proving difficult.

        Good to hear that your HIIT doesn’t seem to effect your HIT workout.

        I seem to have a lot more aches/DOMs now after soccer and HIT which I am linking to possible overtraining? And or fact I am 30 now.

        • Sounds like you’re doing all the right things. As long as you’re in the “HIT mindset” I think common sense takes care of a lot of things but we all seem to be in that never ending quest to optimise our training!

          Aches and DOMS are just part of the deal I think, nothing to worry about unless they’re genuinely impacting on day to day life or you feel they have potential to develop into chronic injury.

          I too would like to master those movements if only for the challenge, there’s a big skill element involved along with the necessary strength. I can do a single pistol (lol) but feel the press up may never happen, pull up almost certainly never!!

          Anyway, I’m no expert. Definitely a “peer”, I just have no RL friends that are in any way interested in fitness! Glad to talk.

          • I think as well with a lot of the more advance body weight moves the people who you see doing them often train with a fast cadence. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone do a one arm press up with a good slow cadence!

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